You have friends coming over for a dinner party and you don’t know what to cook. You also don’t want to be in the kitchen the whole time. And your friends are foodies who often travel to try specific, high profile restaurants. So what do you do? Starting this month, you could serve them a multi course dinner from award winning chef Nina Compton’s New Orleans restaurant Compère Lapin sent nationwide by new company Moveable Feast.
Compton’s Caribbean/Creole dishes will be on order through the month of April serving this menu: Louisiana Bowfin Caviar with Tostones; Pickled Shrimp with Avocado and Taro Root; a whole Jerk Chicken; Cow Heel Soup with Smoked Bone Marrow; Little Gem Salad with Coconut Dressing and Crispy Shallots; Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Coriander and Lime Butter; Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter and for dessert, Coconut Tres Leches Cake with Toasted Coconut. A different in-demand restaurant from around the country will be featured every month including two James Beard Award Semifinalists from San Francisco: Octavia’s Melissa Perello and Kim Alter’s Nightbird and Boulder’s James Beard Award winning Frasca Food and Wine which celebrates the bounty of the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The idea for the company from co-founders and restaurateurs John Stubbs (owner/operator of New Orleans’s Jewel of the South) and Jon Sybert (Michelin starred chef/owner of Washington D.C.’s Tail Up Goat, both of which will have a menu of the month) came during the onset of the pandemic. “We met a lot of other restaurateurs around the country on Zoom calls; everyone shared the same challenges: operating on thin margins and wondering how to reach customers outside of fine dining,” says Stubbs. “One of the more interesting innovations from the pandemic was nationwide shipping but our kitchens are optimized for fine dining. We couldn’t do nationwide shipping from them as well.”
The solution was to build a high-end fulfillment kitchen in Napa “very large, with live fire and a lot of the bells and whistles of Michelin kitchens,” he explains. Part of Napa’s appeal: the abundance of produce and other ingredients widely available for most of the year. With a group of chefs assembled from personal contacts and those Zoom calls, Jon Sybert took over coordinating with the chefs and supervising the staff tasked with executing the menus they created. “We discuss what season they’re in or want to be in,” says Sybert. “Then collaborate with the chefs to create these menus that are representative of what’s in their restaurants that also can be reheated at home.” Sending test samples back to them for approval has more often than not resulted in success, he explains. Only a few items failed because a dish wouldn’t survive in transit, it took long to prepare or the texture was substandard such as a cheese rosti that was delicious but failed to be crispy enough.
All meals are designed to be ready in 30 minutes tops with instructions included; if there is any confusion, there’s a QR code that links to a video to answer any questions quickly, according to Sybert. “We love hosting and cooking them a good meal,” he says. “But it’s not good to be in the kitchen the whole evening.”